JUSTICE Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla said “peer pressure” may have prompted the two female environmental activists to deny that they voluntarily turned themselves in to authorities following their disappearance last September 2.
Remulla was referring to the briefing organized by the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) for environmental activists Jhed Tamano and Jonila Castro who they claimed surrendered to the Philippine Army’s 70th Infantry Battalion in Dona Remedios Trinidad, Bulacan.
However, Tamano and Castro surprised officials of the NTF-ELCAC at the briefing when they denied surrendering to the military and that they were actually abducted.
They disclosed during the press conference that they were made to sign an affidavit under duress at the military headquarter stating that they voluntarily sought the assistance of the government.
The two are being linked to the New Peoples’ Army (NPA), the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), which was denied by both camps.
“What I see is that there are youths who cannot refuse the peer pressure. They are afraid to fight or to refuse the pressure of their peers that’s why they are forced to do and say these things,” Remulla said.
He noted that the parents of the two women did not make any noise on the matter except the political groups.
“If there is any truth to it, good luck. I hope that we can help these people if there are indeed harm done to them but I think this was more of a pressure since their family, the parents actually, did not raise hell on this matter. Only the political groups are making noises,” he added.
Remulla pointed out that the government has nothing to gain by violating the law.
But, the DOJ secretary assured that the DOJ is ready to look into the claim of abduction by the two activists.
“If they have a complaint we will look into that…we will find out who is telling the truth,” he assured.
When asked to elaborate on his claim of peer pressure, Remulla referred to the modus of leftist groups to put the blame against the government so that the people will lose faith in the authorities.